By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Dave Dombrowski has been busy the last five weeks, pulling off a trio of trades to help solidify his Red Sox as World Series contenders — if not favorites.
But if you were hoping the team would acquire another arm to strengthen their bullpen, you may be disappointed when Tuesday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline hits. After announcing Monday night’s trade for second baseman Ian Kinsler, the Red Sox president of baseball ops. made it sound like he may be done dealing.
“I’m not sure. If I was telling you right now, it probably would come out of the blue more so,” Dombrowski told reporters after discussing the Kinsler trade. “We still have a lot of conversations we’ve had with clubs, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the last thing we did.”
Dombrowski has heard all the chatter about the Boston bullpen, but says he’s happy with the group bridging the gap to closer Craig Kimbrel.
“I know a lot of people keep talking about our bullpen. We like a lot of things about our bullpen. It’s been pitching well,” he said, which may cause shutters throughout Red Sox nation. “Again, we’re open-minded, but we’re also in a spot where who’s available, who’s not available, do they make us better? We’ll see. A lot of things come out of the blue the last day.”
That could be Dombrowski playing his cards close to his chest, but another reliable arm out of the pen remains a glaring need. The Boston bullpen ranks sixth in MLB with a 3.35 ERA but there are some serious concerns about their current cast of relievers leading up to Kimbrel. Joe Kelly was solid to start the season but has struggled to the tune of an 8.83 ERA since the start of June (22 appearances). Matt Barnes is Boston’s current eighth-inning man, sporting a 2.35 ERA over the last two months, but he too battles bouts of inconsistency. The price tag on reliable relievers remains high, but a strong bullpen is imperative when October baseball rolls around.
Dombrowski did help the pitching staff with last week’s pickup of Nathan Eovaldi, who made his Boston debut Sunday and tossed seven shutout innings against the Twins. While Eovaldi is in the rotation at the moment, giving the Sox a much-needed righty in their mix, he could find his way to the bullpen when the postseason rolls around.
And his previous pickup on the trade market, outfielder Steve Pearce, has been solid since he came over from the Toronto Blue Jays, slashing .333/.421/.500 while giving the team a reliable bat against lefties. The Kinsler trade is also a solid acquisition and provides some stability at second base and will allow Eduardo Nunez to take over at third until Rafael Devers returns from his hamstring injury and Brock Holt to slot back in as the team’s ultra-utility man.
But the bullpen remains the biggest area of need for the 75-win Red Sox, and the spotlight has only gotten brighter with the Indians, Yankees and Astros all making moves to improve their crop of relievers. Dombrowski knows this, and should do everything he can to improve his ball club in that area over the next few hours.